Sudan's First Prime Minister Since 1989 Coup, Takes Oath

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Sudan's First Prime Minister Since 1989 Coup, Takes Oath

Newly-sworn-in Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh speaking to reporters today.


SUDAN:  Historic moment for Sudan as it gets its first prime minister, after the post was scrapped in 1989 over an Islamist-backed coup. Bakri Hassan Saleh, a former army general and top aide to President Omar al-Bashir was sworn in on Thursday after he was named prime minister, a day earlier by the executive bureau of the president's National Congress Party (NCP). 

Bakri Hassan Saleh is a military officer, involved in the bloodless coup that brought President Bashir to power three decades ago. The 68-year-old took the oath as prime minister at a presidential palace in Khartoum. He will also continue in his post as first vice president.

Bashir had abolished the post of prime minister after the coup, and analysts said the appointment of Saleh was an attempt, by the president to give his decades-old regime a new look. The appointment also falls in line with reforms proposed by a year-long national dialogue held between Bashir's government and some opposition groups.

In October, after a quarter century in power, Bashir concluded the national dialogue aimed at resolving insurgencies in Sudan's border regions and healing the country's crisis-wracked economy. The talks, launched in 2015, were boycotted by most mainstream opposition and armed groups.

"Our country is at a historic moment as it harmonises all political parties and powers who participated in the national dialogue," Saleh said in a brief statement after taking oath. Sudanese lawmakers had voted in December to reinstate the post of prime minister.

"General Bakri's appointment is broadly a continuation of Bashir's rule rather than a new chapter in Sudan's politics," Khaled Tigani, editor-in-chief of weekly newspaper Elaff, told AFP. "But at the end of the day it depends on the leadership that General Bakri manages to show," he added.

Saleh, a key aide to Bashir for decades, has previously held important government ministerial portfolios like interior and defence. He has also been adviser to Bashir on national security and was head of the country's all powerful National Security and Intelligence Service in the 1990s.

Bashir had led the 1989 coup against then-prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi with the help of Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi. Mahdi fled abroad more than two years ago but returned to Sudan last month. A fixture of Sudanese politics since the 1960s, Mahdi served as prime minister from 1966 to 1967 and again from 1986 to 1989. His government was the last to be democratically elected in Sudan before the coup.
 


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